Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995

Toyota HighlanderThe History of Toyota

Today, Toyota is the top selling automaker in the world after beating out Volkswagen for total sales in 2020. This, however, was not always the case. Since being founded in 1937, the company has taken a long and winding road to reach the level of prestige they've acquired in modern times.

How Toyota Came to Be

The Toyoda Automatic Loom Works company was first founded by Sakichi Toyoda in 1926. However, it was his son, Kiichiro Toyoda, that founded the automobile manufacturing division of the company in 1933 that would eventually go on to become the Toyota Motor Company.

The company's first vehicles were the A1 passenger car and the G1 truck, both released in 1935. However, it wasn't long before much of the company's focus shifted to building trucks for the Japanese army during World War II. When the war ended, Japan began to face serious financial difficulties. Due to this, it wasn't until 1947 that Toyota was able to produce its next commercial car, the Toyopet. It was a small, compact passenger car that came with a 4-cylinder engine. The compact design was a hit and, as is evident by their models today, this became a strong focal point for the company for decades to come.

However, It wasn't until the early 1950s, after building numerous vehicles for the U.S. army during the Korean War, that Toyota was finally able to send the first Japanese produced vehicles to America. These were the Land Cruiser and the Toyopet. Over the next few decades, interest in the Toyota brand spread across the country. This was largely in part due to the 1960s, in which many U.S. based automobile manufacturers began to struggle with the enormous cost of production and declining sales. Toyota stepped in to fill the void.

By the 1980s, Toyota had become the second largest car manufacturer in the world. Their cars were often far more affordable than the other options available and they met all the necessary criteria for American drivers. This was only helped by the introduction of the Corolla in 1966 and Camry in 1982, both of which have gone on to become two of their best selling models.

Toyota would make another big splash in the automotive world with the release of their hybrid electric vehicle, the Prius. It was first put on sale in 1997 and was made available at all Toyota Japan dealerships – effectively making it the world's first hybrid vehicle to be mass produced. The car was so environmentally conscious that in 2007 it was named the cleanest vehicle sold in the U.S.

Fast-forward to today and Toyota has become one of the biggest names in all of automobile manufacturing. They've managed to cultivate a brand that's synonymous with dependability, performance, safety, and environment.

Further Reading on Toyota


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